As the race for who succeeds Governor Abiola Ajimobi gathers momentum, InsideOyo.com examines the chances of Ibadan-born oil magnate, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde, who has his eyes on the coveted seat.
He has been around for long in the political scene but silently. It was not until 2007 that he decided to run for the senatorial seat of Oyo South in The Senate. He was the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP. He lost the election to Sen. Kamorudeen Adedibu, son of late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu.
In 2010, many had thought he would move with his leader, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, who would later become governor, to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. It was not; he later defected to the PDP but lost the 2011 senatorial ticket to the then incumbent Adedibu, who in turn lost the election to ACN’s Sen. Olufemi Lanlehin.
In a move many political commentators have termed ‘miscalculation’, he rejected offer to fly the flag of the APC and Accord in the 2015 senatorial election, after losing the ticket of the PDP to Sen. Teslim Folarin, in a controversial manner. He left for little-known Social Democratic Party, SDP, while former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala also left PDP for Labour Party, LP.
Makinde did not only lose the 2015 governorship election, he came a distant 5th position after spending huge amount of resources, wooing voters who like queuing behind a candidate that has the highest chance of winning the poll.
Some commentators who confided in InsideOyo.com said Makinde could not have accepted any offer from APC especially as he was very close to Nigeria’s then first family. His wife, Tamunominini, who is from oil-rich Rivers State in South Southern Nigeria, is said to be close to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.
The widely-held belief of many in the Oyo political circle is that you need to be ‘something’, no matter how small, before you can become Oyo governor. According to many of them, who spoke with Inside Oyo, all those who have governed, especially in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic held political offices before becoming governors.
Late Alhaji Lamidi Adesina was a member of the House of Representatives between 1979 and 1983 before he became governor in 1999. His successor, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja, was a member of The Senate, in the aborted Nigeria’s Third Republic. Ladoja’s successor, Adebayo Alao-Akala was an executive chairman between 1999 and 2002, deputy governor and later acting governor before becoming governor. Incumbent Abiola Ajimobi was a senator between 2003 and 2007.
There is no doubt that Makinde has warmed himself to the heart of many not only with his philanthropic gesture but his calmness. But, according to political commentators, that cannot win him the seat.
As the 2019 beckons, Makinde is still in SDP, a party many consider as ‘too unpopular’ to win a councillorship election as the party was said to have recorded victory in just one polling unit in the whole of the state.
The philanthropist is leaving no stone unturned to realise his ambition. But in the view of many, his ambition is unrealisable in SDP. If he gets it right by joining the right party since the incumbent will not be contesting as he is completing his constitutionally-recognised two-term in office, he can make it to Agodi Government House, some people have argued.
Some keen political watchers have concluded that it is too late for him to leave. The three popular parties- APC, Accord and PDP are crowded with many aspirants.
But the SDP in Oyo State will not agree that the party cannot win governorship election in the state. Its spokesperson, Alhaji Akeem Azeez, argued that the party is “working assiduously to bring all opposition party together to salvage Oyo state and Nigeria from total collapse under the ineptitude APC. Over sixty percent oyo electorates have consistently voted against APC in both 2011 and 2015 gubernatorial elections. What that tells you is that opposition needs to come together and we have kick-started the plan and SDP is equally a platform to watch in 2019.”
He spoke further: ”It took the so-called progressives 16 years to win at the National stage and after two terms of PDP in Oyo state to win. APC term is up in Oyo. The question we all need to ask ourselves is: has the ruling party brought blessing or burden to the people? The answer is clear; they have brought burden with dollars exchange for 360 and other attendants effect, salaries being owed among other things.
Barring his mind, an Ibadan-based lawyer, Barr. Ibrahim Lawal advised the Makinde to join any of the three big parties if he wants to be governor. “Seyi Makinde is in a wrong party. If he is desirous of winning election, he should go to any of the three big parties in Oyo State. Election is about structures and SDP cannot ensure the maximum followership needed for the realisation of his ambition.”
An educationist, Mr. Kehinde Okunlola expressed similar view, adding that “financial war chest alone is never a magic wand rather complementary while party structure and candidacy are strong yardsticks that bring victory. SDP and Makinde lack the two ingredients.”
Dr. Saheed Adetunmbi Ige is a keen commentator when it comes to Oyo politics. The academic opined that Makinde’s “first breakthrough to winning Gubernatorial election in the state shall be quitting SDP. The party lacks the structure to win at that level. But his candidature is one to beat come 2019. He really needs to be very strategic as 2019 may be his last sure chance. By human reasoning anyway.”
Mr. Ibrahim Balogun corroborated other commentators, saying that though “no one knows tomorrow, he doesn’t have a solid platform. He needs an APC or old PDP platform to do that.”
According to Mr. Adejare Ibrahim, “He can never win with SDP. The party has no structure in the state. Politics is all about people; people of high pedigree, stakeholders and popular votes.”
Mr. Kazeem Kunle-Sanni did not say anything contrary. For him, party structure is key. ”Do you know what it takes to win election in Nigeria? Party structure is key, followed by membership strength. All he has are his popularity and financial capabilities which are also important but the other two are equally important in fact very important.”
A social media entrepreneur, Mr. Adedamola Layade has this to say. “I think he has the best chance of all the aspirants but the wrong platform. SDP cannot win unless the alliance flies.”
Mr. Hammed Hamzat is a masters degree student at the University of Ibadan. He wants Makinde to recontest senatorial election. ”I think Seyi Makinde should contest for senatorial position before aiming to contest for governorship. This is to enable him gain political popularity instead of his individual popularity that has little input in politics.”
He argued further: “I don’t see Makinde winning the governorship election under a party like SDP. No matter how good one’s blue print is, the political party one belongs to have roles to play in an election.SDP as a party died since 1993 after late M.K.O Abiola’s victory was annuled.
But a former speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola would not agree. The Oyo-born political strategist is one of the closest allies of the politician. To him, “The next governor is the one that can mobilize the voters around the need to get our people a better deal in economic well-being; a new path to a prosperous future using the resources on our land from Ibadan to Kishi. He/she should be able to convince the people that he can push boundaries beyond the level the current government has pushed it. If a candidate can do this , he will win. This, by God’s grace, is the kernel of the Seyi Makinde campaign strategy. It doesn’t matter the platform upon which it is actualized. You saw what happened in the Emmanuel Macron election in France.” He submitted.